Tea Party and conservative activists held a counter-rally outside a Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) campaign event in Smyrna, TN on Saturday. According to organizers, over 300 people braved the heat and sun, promoting a primary challenge to Alexander next year. Alexander’s event, held in an air-conditioned building and featuring local officials and Mike Huckabee drew about 250, according to local press.
The counter-rally was organized by “Beat Lamar,” an effort by grass-roots activists to oppose Sen. Alexander in the GOP primary, even though he doesn’t yet have an opponent. “We want to send a clear message to the Republican Establishment in Tennessee,” Ben Cunningham, founder of the Nashville Tea Party told Breitbart News. “We are not going to allow you to push the grassroots aside so you can hold a coronation of Lamar Alexander simply because he has an R by his name.”
“We have seen what real conservatives look like in the Senate and we are not going back,” Cunningham continued. “Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) have reminded us all what it looks like when people of principle stand up and fight for those who elected them.”
Of course, Alexander can’t be defeated in a primary if he doesn’t have an opponent. Cunningham said he has spoken with some potential challengers recently. Alexander would certainly have the financial edge. As of June 30th, his campaign reported over $3 million in its campaign account.
At activated base of activists could lessen that edge. “Beat Lamar” organizers say their efforts will build a state-wide network of activists who could instantly get to work on challenger’s campaign.
Getting 300 people out in the summer heat when there isn’t a challenger is a sign that there is some intense opposition to Alexander’s reelection. We’ll know before long whether it is enough.
UPDATE: Staff for Sen. Lamar Alexander contacted Breitbart News to state that 500+ people attended the Rally for Alexander. They argued that the reporter for the original news story on the event left before it was over. Katherine Hudgins, an organizer of the “Beat Lamar” rally told Breitbart News “I have two reports from sources who won’t go one the record because of the position they hold in the party. One report is 250 the other was 300.”
Sen. Alexander’s campaign posted the following picture of the event on his Facebook page.